‘The Walking Dead’ Derails a Train & (Maybe) Sets Up Some Spinoffs (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 21, “Outpost 22.”]
It’s not “As” and “Bs,” but the Commonwealth’s clearly got something going on.
“Outpost 22” doesn’t delve into whether or not the Commonwealth’s officially affiliated with the Civic Republic Military (CRM), but in the spirit of most of 11C’s episodes, it poses a ton of questions without answering them. (Walking Dead, you do realize you’re ending in a few short hours, right? Yes?) In sending Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Rosita (Christan Serratos) after their missing friends, this week’s installment scratches the surface of the Commonwealth’s major mystery — and sets up the show’s final battle on familiar turf.
The Daryl, Carol, Maggie, Gabriel and Rosita story starts with all of them separated. Maggie, and also Gabriel and Rosita, were taken by Commonwealth officers; separately, they break free and meet up with Daryl and Carol, who are tracking the train. Before they all get together, though, “Team Caryl” sees Connie (Lauren Ridloff) loaded onto the locomotive — and learn that she’s “Designation 2.” That means she won’t be sent to the labor camps where Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Kelly (Angel Theory) wind up under the thumb of a power-hungry, brutal supervisor. “What’s ‘Designation 2?’” Carol wonders aloud. Yeah, Carol, we’d all love to know.
After Maggie has a heartbreaking struggle with a child walker, Daryl and Carol find her, and she reveals that Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) is gone. And at the labor camp, Negan’s worried because his pregnant wife Annie (Medina Senghore) has been loaded onto a different truck and taken away from the site. Is this a setup for Maggie and Negan’s spinoff Dead City, or a red herring?
Meanwhile, Daryl and Carol are determined to stop that train and save Connie, and the first step in that process is interrogating a wounded Commonwealth soldier. Dying, he tells them that he’s “heard rumors” about Designation 2 and that those people are sent far away. “No one comes back,” he says. This has to be a CRM tease. Right? Right…? After dropping that scrumptious morsel of information, the soldier dies.
Thankfully, Connie’s not going anywhere. The group manages to jam the tracks so that they won’t switch, and while the officers are distracted, they take down the company and free Connie. They also get the conductor, who reveals that there’s a map on the train but “the warden” will kill his family if he tells them anything. The man would rather die than resolve this plot point, so he puts a stake through his own neck.
At the labor camp, everyone’s having a very bad time. Against that bleak backdrop, Ezekiel and Negan have a chat. Ezekiel still hasn’t forgotten what Negan did to his people back when he was in charge of the Saviors. Negan wholeheartedly agrees that for the things he’s done, he “deserves to be in a place like this.” But, the rest of their people and his wife, he says, don’t. He offers to “light a spark” so Ezekiel can inspire hope and spur a revolt, but they wind up getting loaded onto the trucks before he can put his plan into action.
As the episode ends, Daryl and his friends get the conductor’s long-range radio working. Rosita tells the operator that she needs help, and the woman on the other end guides her to “Outpost 22” — a.k.a., Alexandria. It’s convenient, then, that Ezekiel, Negan and Kelly are also headed to Alexandria. A final showdown at home is in the cards. “We are going to get our kids, take back our home, and make it right,” Maggie vows.
- So, the obvious theory is that “Designation 2” is part of an exchange with CRM. But as far as we know, the Commonwealth was never an official CRM colony, so… would they have been accepting resources from the CR, or instead, made some other deal in order for the CR to leave them alone?
- “Way out there” theory: the focus on Annie, Hershel and Coco made me wonder about Padre rather than CRM. But Fear is years behind the main show, so any Padre connection is unlikely. Unless Padre is connected to CRM. Who knows?
- POTENTIAL MAJOR SPOILERS: I wish the trailers hadn’t shown as much as they did from these last few episodes. From promotional material, we know that Rosita and Coco will reunite, and unless there’s a deleted scene, it seems Maggie and Hershel will as well. (Is Hershel going to get kidnapped, saved, and kidnapped again? Poor kid.)
- Does anyone else think it’s strange for the show to commit to the Connie-Daryl relationship now? It’s clear that’s where things are headed based on their interactions (the hand on the shoulder, the giddiness when she’s safe), but with only three episodes to go, there isn’t much time to explore a romance. As it stands, it looks like more time will have been spent on Daryl-Leah than Daryl-Connie, which is odd given that the former was always doomed to fail.
- On the subject of romance, apparently, Gabriel and Rosita broke up offscreen. Series showrunner Angela Kang confirms this in the post-episode interview featurette. So… too bad, I guess? Gabe-Rosita was an awkward pairing for many fans, but considering the emphasis placed on them in seasons past, it would’ve been meaningful to see the end of that relationship.
- If that operator at the end sounded familiar, it’s because she was voiced by Community star and longtime TWD superfan Yvette Nicole Brown.
- No news on Oceanside yet again. Either they’re all dead, or they’re all “Designation 2.”
- Rating: 3.5/5. “Outpost 22” has good action scenes and nice character moments for Ezekiel, Negan, and the wonderful duo of Carol and Maggie. But this still doesn’t feel like a show building toward its endgame, and I’m concerned that the final episode will leave behind a nasty residue of unanswered questions.
The Walking Dead Season 11, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC